The Hospital 3 Day Diet, which is also known as the Birmingham Hospital Diet, has become popular due to claims that the diet was created as a means of enabling patients intended for surgery to lose up to 10 lbs in weight over a period of three days. Other sources attribute the origin of this diet plan to the University of Alabama.
It should be noted that these institutions do not make that claim and do not accept any responsibility towards those who follow the diet.
Notwithstanding the uncertainty of its origins, there is little doubt that this simple diet plan has become widespread and that many people have used it, often coming across the weight loss strategy under one of its many names. Apart from the Hospital 3 Day Diet, it is also known as Alabama 3 Day Diet, 3 day Tuna Diet, Tuna Fish Diet, 3 Day Cardiac Diet, and others.
The content of these weight loss diet plans is very similar and will here be treated as essentially the same.
A key element of the Hospital 3 Day Diet is that it contains a low daily calorie level of about 1,000 calories with specified ingredients to provide the protein, carbohydrates, fat (very little) and other nutrients that we need to survive. For a full description of the menu plan, do a quick search for my article “3 Day Tuna Fish Diet – Menu and Diet Plan”.
In brief, the plan outlines the foods to be included for breakfast, lunch and dinner over a three day period.
There are many reports of weight reduction from those who have followed the diet. The amount of claimed weight lost during that time varies, as might be expected with so many differing metabolisms and food requirements being involved. However, a minimum weight reduction of at least 2.5 lbs does seem attainable and likely.
Much of the weight loss from a diet of such a short duration probably comes from water loss. As well, with a calorie count of about 1,000 this would be well below normal requirements for most adults, so energy expended would also account for some of the loss.
However, whilst not a ‘starvation diet’, the Birmingham Hospital Diet is likely to generate user problems if continued beyond the recommended 3 days. For instance, it is normal for our bodies to make adjustments when a food shortage is detected. This is a survival mechanism which protects us when little food is available, as in times of famine. The body slows metabolism and conserves fat stores to enable us to survive longer with less food. This actually makes it harder to lose weight, we have less energy and tire more easily. Not a satisfactory long term condition!
Although there may be some short-term loss advantage, the feelings of hunger experienced by the end of the diet encourage extra food intake after the diet has been completed. A better alternative is a program that does not produce a craving for food, does not cause the body to slow its activities, and takes into account nutritional requirements so that changes in eating habits would allow fat loss to happen over a longer period and be lasting.
Rather than following a simple, low calorie diet plan, losing weight over an extended period allows other tactics to be employed in the plan, such as ‘calorie shifting’, placing greater emphasis on fat loss and adequate nutrition. This is more likely in the long run to provide health benefits and sustainable weight loss.